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Enforcement is a very important part of the Adopt-a-Forest program.

We work closely with law enforcement officials such as County Sheriffs, Conservation Officers, and USFS personnel on a daily basis.  We also work with legislators and judges to educate them about program issues that arise.

Media plays an important role in soliciting volunteers and sometimes in finding out who dumped. Newspapers around the state have began running articles with photos of dumped items letting readers know who to contact if they have information that could lead to the arrest of illegal dumpers.

Conservation Officers investigate and report illegal trash sites to program managers. Maps are automatically created and directions to the site are recorded. These reports are invaluable to the program when volunteers are deciding what areas are in need of their efforts.

Community Service Programs:
Community service workers, jail release programs, and technical rule violators work throughout the state to cleanup trash that has been illegally dumped on public land.

Relevant Laws:
Michigan's Solid Waste Statutes and Rules

Act 451, Part 89, Littering

      Act 451, Part 169, Scrap Tires, states that a person can only transport 7 scrap tires at once in a vehicle on a public road or street unless they are a licensed scrap tire hauler.  However, "a member of a nonprofit service organization who is participating in a community service project..." is exempt from this rule.  Therefore, it is legal for Adopt-a-Forest volunteers to transport more than 7 tires at once to legally dispose of them.

     Act 451, Part 358, Adopt-a-Shoreline Program

     Act 451, Part 359, Adopt-a-River Program


Much of what we find on public land could have been recycled or comes from businesses, such as large piles of scrap tires or construction materials.  A poster was developed geared toward  disposal of construction materials.  Free copies can be obtained by contacting Ada Takacs at takacsa@michigan.gov

Many arrests have been made based on advanced investigation skills.  We don't want to list how it's done here, but dumpers are not just getting caught because they leave their name and address in the pile of trash they leave behind.

The Michigan Secretary of State only maintains license plate information for 30 months after the last date of non-renewal.  In addition, Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) are only kept on file for 10 years after non-renewal.  What this means for our program is that vehicles, boats, and trailers illegally dumped in the woods are not always easy to track down based on expired license plates and VINs.

Some laws that are good for the environment affect the type and amounts of trash found on public land.  For example, the need for freon removal netted a surge in the number of refrigerators found on public land.  In addition, the need for overfill protection devices (OPD valves) on propane tanks translated to more tanks being found.  Both of these issues seem to have been resolved now that metals are netting high cash-in values. 

The FCC required that all television signals be digital by February, 2009.  Old TV sets (that likely contain lead in their picture tubes and potentially mercury in liquid crystal displays) became obsolete without converter boxes.  This meant more TVs being dumped in our woods.  To find out where to recycle electronic waste, visit the DEQ's recycling website and search for your county contact.

Report Dumping in Progress:
Your safety is very important to us!  Do not approach people in the act of illegal dumping or attempt to take any enforcement action.  If possible, get a description of the vehicle and occupants, time of day, location and what is being dumped.  To report dumping in progress, contact the DNR Report All Poaching Hotline at 1-800-292-7800.

How to Collect Evidence:
If you are cleaning up a pile of trash on public land and find proof of dumping, please turn it in to the local DNR (state land) or USFS (federal land). 

Information such as date, location, evidence found and photos are very useful.  If you know approximately when it was dumped, make note of that.  Track the amount of time you spent cleaning up the area as well as any costs associated (such as gas to get there and/or disposal costs).  This information is all very helpful when pressing charges against illegal dumpers.

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